ARNOLD W. BARDEN, JR., LTJG, USN

From USNA Virtual Memorial Hall

Arnold Barden, Jr. '69

Date of birth: April 2, 1946

Date of death: September 20, 1971

Age: 25

Lucky Bag

From the 1969 Lucky Bag:


Loss

From Fire from the Sky: Seawolf Gunships in the Mekong Delta By Richard C. Knott:

On September 20, during a routine daylight patrol in Hau Nghia Province west of Saigon, a Seawolf gunship "disintegrated in mid-air." Everyone on board was killed: the pilot, Lt. (jg) Arnold W. Barden, Jr.; the copilot, Lt. Cdr. Lawrence L. Cover; and door gunners, ADJ-2 Charles H. Goldbin and AMS-1 Harold E. Cowen. A rotor blade had broken off in flight, and the gunship was torn apart as it plummeted to earth. It was every helicopter pilot's worst nightmare, the kind of accident from which there is no reprieve.

Obituary

From the San Diego Union on September 25, 1971 via Find A Grave:

Navy Lt. (j.g.) Arnold W. Barden Jr. of San Diego died Monday when his UH-1 helicopter crashed 24 miles west of Saigon, his father said yesterday.

The Navy said the crash apparently was accidental.

Col. Arnold W. Barden, USMC. ret., of 8808 Tommy Court said his son had been in Vietnam since January.

Barden, 25, attended junior high school at Coronado and was graduated from high school in Huntington Beach.

After attending Long Beach State College for a year, he entered the US Naval Academy at Annapolis and was graduated in 1969.

He completed flight training at Pensacola (Fla.) Naval Air Station in September 1970.

Barden also is survived by his mother, Mrs. Natalie Keenan of San Pedro.

Arnold is buried in California.

Remembrances

1969 Barden 1.jpg

From Wall of Faces:

Arnie, my memories of our special friendship are as vivid today as they were in the 1960s. I had great affection and admiration for you then and even more so now after you sacrificed your life for our country. You will never be forgotten. KATHY DUNNE, ROCKLAND, MAINE, 11/30/16

I went through flight school with Arnie. He was a great guy and a friend to all who know him. All of us grieved when we heard of his and LtCdr. Cover's deaths. He is still in my thoughts often. JOHN M. WILKINSON, FORMER CAPT., USMC, 6/9/16

Arnie,
It's been tough to learn of your passing. As your roommate at Villanova Prep for the first two years of high school we got to know each other pretty well. You were the reason we passed room inspection every Saturday.You must have known Annapolis was in your future. I remember very fondly the weekend your folks invited me down to your home at El Toro Marine Base to spend the weekend with all of you. Your Mom and Dad were such warm and kind people - I'm so sad they had to face the unimaginable tragedy of your loss. Before I go, I wanted you to know that I dedicated my career to you and all the others who weren't able to come home from that war. I was in the Submarine Service, fulfilling a childhood dream, but I had it safe and easy and made it back to go to college. Thank you for the courage and spirit you and your comrades passed on to me - it has made all the difference. HUGH BARRETT, 5/25/14

I was so lucky to get to know you at Huntington Beach High School. You were the friendliest person with a terrific personality. You use to call me Plum because my favorite color was royal blue and I wore a lot of it. I am so greatful for all you did so we can enjoy this great country. I am sorry it took me so long to acknowledge your ultimate sacrifice CONNIE (ANDERSON) BOWERS, SISSY46_9@MSN.COM, 6/5/11

I got my wings with Arnie and 3 other Naval Aviators in August 1970 at the chapel at Ellyson Field. We spent a lot of time around the swimming pool there that summer. I ran into him again in Subic Bay in the summer of '71. He was there for R & R. He was a fine and charming fellow. I'm so sorry for his death as such a young age. Ron Pyron, former Capt., USMCR RON PYRON, GRAY, TN, RONPYRON@COMCAST.NET, 12/28/03

Memorial Hall Error?

Arnold is listed on the killed in action panel in the front of Memorial Hall. While not an obvious error, inclusion on the panel for crashes like this (incidental to combat flights) has been inconsistent across WWII, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War.

It is unclear if he was awarded the Purple Heart, which would indicate an official finding of "killed in action." The available evidence suggests he was not, though there are some posts on un-sourced Vietnam remembrance sites that claim the crash was caused by enemy fire.

Related Articles

It's unclear if they overlapped, but William Sigler '69 was also a member of Helicopter Attack Squadron (Light) (HA(L)) 3 in 1971-1972.


Class of 1969

Arnold is one of 17 members of the Class of 1969 in Memorial Hall.